Business Standard

BS Seema Nazareth Award: Be a constructive critic, says Justice Nagarathna

The Business Standard-Seema Nazareth Award for Excellence in Journalism 2022 was presented to Correspondent, Dhruvaksh Saha

Justice B V Nagarathna

Justice B V Nagarathna

BS Reporter New Delhi

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In the age of digital media and new-age journalism, self-regulation is not adequate and the answer lies at the intersection of self and state regulation, Supreme Court judge B V Nagarathna said on Saturday in her keynote address at the 24th Business Standard-Seema Nazareth Award for Excellence in Journalism 2022.

The award is given each year to journalists below 30.

“Digital media has brought a revolution in news reporting and broadcasting. Never before have people had such quick access to information and it is therefore essential for journalism to be accurate,” Justice Nagarathna said.

BS Seema Nazareth Award 2022
Dhruvaksh Saha, Correspondent, Business Standard

In her speech titled “A Free and Balanced Press: A Sentinel of Democracy”, the judge said real-time reporting should not mean any compromise on detail and accuracy.

She talked not just about the importance of a free press but also the responsibility of journalists to maintain public trust.

“Free press is the lodestar that guides democracy in the right direction … Vibrancy and plurality of a democracy is damaged if the press is stopped from performing its task.”

BS Seema Nazareth Award 2022
Sarthak Choudhury, Chief Copy Editor, Business Standard

Justice Nagarathna said while the press must speak truth to power, constantly playing the devil’s advocate was also not the right thing to do.

“Don’t be an ally or an advisor. Be a constructive critic and an independent entity,” she said while also cautioning about the increasing instances of fake news or what was earlier called “yellow journalism”.

“It is the media’s collective responsibility to leave the element of bias and prejudice while reporting. Fear mongering should be shunned.”

She said it was the duty of the press to simplify complex information for the public but such simplification must go hand in hand with accuracy.

The judge said that amid the deluge of news channels, perspectives were getting distorted and clickbait journalism was satisfying the short attention span of viewers. Therefore, she said, there was a need for media literacy.

“The art of journalism required that light be shed on nuances. Give the public a complete picture of events and do not quote, especially public officials, out of context,” Justice Nagarathna said.

Justice Nagarthna said the press was the national trustee of public information and any homogenised views on issues that range from polity to political ideology would cause grave danger to democracy.

“The critical use of the press for government policy cannot be termed anti-establishment,” she added. 

The Business Standard-Seema Nazareth Award for Excellence in Journalism 2022 was presented to Correspondent Dhruvaksh Saha, who is based in New Delhi. The award carries a prize of Rs 50,000, a silver pen, and a citation. It has been instituted by Business Standard Ltd and the Nazareth family in memory of Seema Nazareth, a young Business Standard journalist who died in March 1999. The jury commended Saha’s in-depth reporting and analysis on various subjects including infrastructure financing, power-sector difficulties, or a retrospective on the development of the Delhi Metro. 

This year, in the ceremony held virtually, the Special Mention award was conferred on New Delhi-based Chief Sub-Editor Sarthak Choudhury. This carries a citation and a prize of Rs 10,000. The jury praised Choudhury for writing his stories with colour and details of a street reporter in addition to his responsibilities on the copy desk.

While presenting the vote of thanks, Seema Nazareth’s father, P A Nazareth, recalled how the first award was conferred at Rashtrapati Bhavan on his daughter’s birthday, which falls on February 21.  

“It is not easy to be a journalist in many parts of the world but remember that journalism is a mission and a very important one, to every good democracy,” Nazareth said while praising Justice Nagarathna’s message to journalists.

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First Published: Apr 29 2023 | 7:45 PM IST

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